8:00 PM, 16th May, 2001
A town somewhere in South America. This town isn't a place people go to by choice((mdash))it's a place people end up in. Without the money to fly out, a motley bunch of outcast Europeans scrounge a pitiful existence from day to day. Suddenly, a chance arrives((mdash))the American oil company located up in the mountains needs an urgent shipment of nitroglycerine. Also required are four volunteers to drive trucks laden with the delicate high explosive up 300 miles of rough roads. For $2000 a piece and the chance to escape, there are plenty who'll risk their lives.
This is a truly exceptional film. The gritty realism of the town grounds you so securely that when the tension rises, you are in absolute agonies of suspense. But on another level, the characters' lives, full of petty rivalries and romances become almost irrelevant when compared with the terrifying game played against the mountain, in which the penalty for failure is death. A triumph of drawn-out suspense over mere shock, Wages of Fear is as gruelling as it is fascinating. See it on the big screen, then tape it next time it's on SBS and watch it on a regular basis.